Union: Boost security at Jones Beach Phish concert

Phish will play the Nikon Theater July 12.

Phish will play the Nikon Theater July 12. (Credit: AP)

The union representing state parks police Wednesday criticized state officials, saying they assigned only 15 officers so far to cover an estimated 15,000 concertgoers expected Friday at the Jones Beach theater.

Fans of Phish, a popular rock band that turns 30 this year, are expected to begin gathering in the morning at the Nikon at Jones Beach venue even though the concert won't start until 7:30 p.m., said the Police Benevolent Association of New York State.

The union is calling on the state parks department to reinforce what it called the "inadequate" parks police contingent with state and local police.

A state parks department spokesman declined to cite the number of security personnel, but said it was "adequate" and not just 15 officers.

"It's a heck of a lot more than that," spokesman Randy Simons said.

There will also be park rangers, police supervisors and plainclothes officers, he said.

Last week at Phish's three-day concert in upstate Saratoga Springs, one person died of a drug overdose. Various law enforcement agencies arrested "hundreds," most on drug charges, including possession of LSD-laced gummy bears, the union said, citing numbers from Saratoga County's district attorney. The release said there were more than 120 felony and misdemeanor charges, 95 violations, 75 traffic and vehicle stops and 50 tickets.

"Jones Beach is a spectacular location for summertime activities, however, it is equally clear that minor altercations and disputes . . . can escalate quickly following a day of parking lot partying," PBA president Manuel Vilar said in a news release. "In order to protect the public and personnel, it is essential that the patrol ratios be appropriately sized to meet the risk and challenge of the event. The failure to do so is irresponsible."

Simons said the security detail for Phish's Jones Beach performance will be bigger than for the one in Saratoga Springs, where the venue is larger.Over the years, parks police have called for more staffing at concerts and on the beaches, which draw tens of thousands during summer weekends.

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